Health Ministry launches anti-AIDS mass media campaignTuesday, November 29, 2005 – 12:34 pm
Source: Stabroek News
The Ministry of Health yesterday launched its Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) Campaign, which is funded by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Guyenterprise Advertising Agency was contracted to do advertisements, billboards, posters and brochures and a documentary and part of the campaign targets the reduction of stigma and discrimination.
Dr Frank Anthony, Executive Director of the Health Sector Development Unit (HSDU) of the Ministry of Health noted that each year young people represent more than half of the newly infected persons.
According to him, several surveys have revealed that between 2% and 3.5% of Guyanese are living with HIV. In one survey it was found that 6% of miners and loggers are infected; 45% of commercial sex workers; 3.8% of pregnant mothers; and 12% to 15% of patients with sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Dr Anthony said despite the fact that anyone can become infected, many persons have the delusion of invincibility. However, he said the hard cold fact is that, “we are all vulnerable.”
The documentary listed Guyana as the country with the second highest infection rate after Haiti. However, Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy said yesterday that according to his figures six per cent of Haitians were infected, three per cent of Trinidadians and 2.5% of Guyanese.
This is the second time the minister has indicated publicly that Guyana is not the second most infected country in the Caribbean. Recently, while speaking to students at Freedom House the minister had said that Guyana was not the second most infected country in the Caribbean.
The mass media messages in the campaign were developed under four broad components including stigma and discrimination, condom social marketing, treatment and care and early HIV testing. A jingle, “Living in a world with AIDS” was also launched.
The messages were created on the basis of the findings of the Behavioural Surveillance Survey (BSS), research and interviews among others.
BCC Coordinator Jennifer Ganesh said the campaign was the first phase of the national mass media campaign. She said BSS was fairly new in Guyana, but was becoming more vital in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Deborah Rodney, who gave an overview of the campaigns, said the team met people on the ground, who are working in the fight against HIV as well as those living with the virus to help create the messages. She is confident that the work reflects real need and potential for behavioural changes. No actors were used in the advertisements.
During the formation of the messages it was found that a lot of persons did not know much about condoms and their use, while some were not aware that free treatment and care are available.
The advertisements will soon be aired on the radio and television stations.